Orlando artist Naome Bradshaw is a powerhouse singer, loving mother and granddaughter, and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder survivor. It took years of EMDR therapy and genealogy research for Bradshaw to internalize that the generations of neglect and teen pregnancy from which she descends weren’t her (or her mentally ill mother’s) fault. Now, surrounded on stage by a dressing room full of detritus, Bradshaw is bravely opening up to audiences the trash bag full of trauma she’s been lugging around her whole life, introducing them to Rudy — the rude self-critical voice in her head — as she recounts her recovery from being a suicidal alcoholic who always felt like a toddler trapped in an adult body. Along the way, she reclaims the legacy of her grandmother, a fellow singer who abandoned Bradshaw’s mother, assumed multiple aliases, and claimed to have dated everyone from William Shatner to Rocky Marciano.
To be frank, there are plenty of other one-person Fringe shows about childhood trauma, but what sets Bradshaw’s exceptional effort apart are the five tuneful original pop-country songs she composed (with Randy Nichols and Angelo Jannotti), which she delivers with chart-topping intensity. Bradshaw’s mother unexpectedly passed away the evening before the performance I attended, and she was obviously still processing extremely raw emotions on stage. The fact that she was able to make it through the show at all is an amazing achievement, rendering moot any pacing critiques I might ordinarily offer. Director Danielle Ziss has admirably created a safe space for Bradshaw to be vulnerable (much as she did for last year’s Thrive
) and smartly ends the evening with a celebratory audience participation dance party to sweep away the gloom. This tale isn’t always easy to take, but whether singing or speaking, Naome Bradshaw is a voice you want to listen closely to.
Tickets and show info: Gone